Behind the scenes: New Zealand Sign Language interpreters in Parliament

Disability Issues
Friday, May 29, 2015

A story from the Parliament website - a great team!

Challenging and full-on is how New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreters, Jenn Gilbert and Saran Goldie-Anderson described their recent interpretation for Budget week.

The fast-paced Question Time required the NZSL interpreters from iSign to have flying hands.

The pair worked as a team taking turns to sign in front of the camera in the Parliament TV studio, and feed in information and interjections as they were uttered in the Debating Chamber. They also interpreted the Minister of Finance's Budget statement and the speeches of party leaders in the Budget debate.

Jenn and Saran both completed a degree in New Zealand Sign Language Interpreting at the Auckland University of Technology. They spoke of a love of the language and its amazing culture and people, "You're in people's lives a lot."

A deaf cousin inspired Saran to work with the language, and she also interprets for stand-up comedy. Jenn works full-time as a New Zealand Sign Language interpreter, with healthcare her speciality.

NZSL is fascinating as it doesn't follow the conventions of English grammar. It also relies on facial expressions to function as tones in spoken English. For example, for "It's raining heavily" the sign for "rain" would be used with emphasis provided by a weighty hand gesture indicating falling rain, and a fitting facial expression.

NZSL interpretation at Parliament supports New Zealand Sign Language week and other events of interest to the deaf community – such as Budget week.